England and Germany fought out a goalless draw in an exciting end to end game which saw five debuts for the home side. The challenging fixture has plenty to think over as Germany head to defend their status as World Champions, and left England fans pondering who to put on the plane.
1. Who Needs Joe Hart?
Thursday night saw Jordan Pickford make his international debut and it would be fair to say he did a fantastic job, earning himself a clean sheet in the process. He kept out four shots on target by a side well known for being clinical in front of goal. Pickford has made 34 saves in the Premier League behind an Everton defence that has taken plenty of criticism. Gareth Southgate told ITV “In the first half we needed a couple of really goods saves from Jordan Pickford – we caused our own problems with a couple of those.”
With the manager clearly impressed with the Toffee’s keeper, Joe Hart will be wondering if his seat is no longer guaranteed for Russia 2018. Tom Heaton entered Southgate’s thoughts and has work to do following a serious injury, but compatriot Nick Pope has impressed since replacing him. Burnley have kept five clean sheets this season, the same as reigning champions Chelsea.
Stoke keeper Jack Butland will be confident of a return to the side once he has recovered from a broken finger. Fraser Forster will be pushing for a place all the way to the runway, and with Southgate wanting to give young players opportunities, there could be a surprise seat for Norwich City keeper Angus Gunn.
2. Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s Ability Is Clear
Tammy Abraham looked like he struggled for experience at times, choosing to dummy the ball rather than shoot early on in the first half, when any contact with the ball looked a sure goal. Loftus-Cheek on the other hand, settled nicely into his role and gave a showcase performance of his abilities. He looked calm in possession and his passing was clinical, when he moved the ball around, England looked a real threat. So will his performance see him head to Russia 2018?
Gareth Southgate said “Ruben Loftus-Cheek did everything I know he can do. It took him 10 minutes to realise he is OK at this level. He is capable of anything. He has the physical attributes and can handle the ball. He will gain huge confidence from it.” The midfielder was keen to play down any talk though, “If we won ,it would have been better, but I’m really happy. It was a really tactical game. It was good for us young players and I certainly learned a lot. To go to the World Cup? It’s a long season and I still have to improve. I have to keep learning and getting better and hopefully there’s a chance to get on the plane.”
3. Leroy Sané Is Key To Germany Retaining
Sané was on fire at Wembley and gave a ‘man of the match’ performance, he broke apart the England defence with ease. Sané has gained praise this season and sits in the top ten for goals and assists in the Premier League. At the age of 21 he clearly has a bright future, he has already scored more goals than last year and his movement is intelligent beyond his years.
Ryan Giggs said he wished the winger was at the wrong club in Manchester in a recent ITV interview, following the starlets move from Schalke in the summer. He also complimented Sané saying “This season, wow, it seems like he’s got everything this season. If you lose the ball deep, he can carry the team up the pitch. He picks the right cross and he’s scoring goals. He’s ticking every box when it comes to playing in the wide areas.” When you’re getting compliments from Manchester legends like Giggs, you have a bright future. In a years time when Germany look to capture the World Cup for the second time, Sané will provide them with goals, assists and eye-catching brilliance.
4. England’s Talent Pool Just Got Bigger
Five debutant’s: Tammy Abraham, Jordan Pickford, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Joe Gomez and Jack Cork. The most debuts in a single England international since November 2012. England supporters for years have complained about the uninspiring squad choices heading into big tournaments. Most recently, the recall of Jermaine Defoe simply demonstrated England were narrow minded in their approach. Abraham being called up proved we weren’t limited at all, there were more strikers out there than recent call-ups had suggested.
Previously we had very few wing-backs, now Kieran Trippier is pushing Kyle Walker for a start. Nathaniel Clyne, Ryan Bertand, Joe Gomez and a revamped Ashley Young, amongst others, give England problems. The joy is that this problem isn’t hoping Wayne Rooney is firing, it isn’t hoping Jack Wilshere is fit, it’s how we narrow down such a rich pool of talent to 25 men. After the success of England’s youth teams in the summer and the emergence of new stars like Abraham, Rhian Brewster and Phil Foden, we might be less familiar with our 2018 squad than you think.
5. Germany and England Won’t Lift The Cup
Gareth Southgate said “There will be harder tests as the likes of Germany will have another gear to go to.” Having sat for ninety minutes watching the two sides battle it out just for it to end in a goalless draw, nothing told me Germany had another gear. They showed that their ‘Plan B’ had no real bite to it other than Sané, and with the sides that they faced in 2014 making their adjustments, Germany need to make changes of their own. If that is the back up plan they are going to use, they will find it hard to reach the same heights.
England need more time to get their youngsters ready, the World Cup could be used to get them all ready for Euro 2020. If the Three Lions are to reach the summit of international football, they need to be beating sides like Germany, especially one which didn’t look anywhere near the standard of the previous six years. We may not win anything in 2018, but it could be the first brick in building a bright future.